How Did Dora Die? What Happened to her in David Copperfield?

David Copperfield novel's screen adaptation

Dora died after suffering a miscarriage. Shortly after this, she loses her strength and falls into an illness, of which she eventually dies.

Who was Dora Spenlow in David Copperfield?

Dora was Francis Spenlow’s daughter, David Copperfields’s boss. He was a kind and friendly businessman and attorney who was very fond of David.

Even so, while he was alive, Francis firmly forbids him to marry Dora as he was very protective of her. David provides all the arguments and insists that they share a mutual love, but Dora’s father still did not agree.

Despite this, Dora and David still got married after Mr. Spenlow’s sudden death in a carriage accident.

What was Dora’s appearance like?

Dora is described as being beautiful and it is mentioned in the novel that David falls in love with her at first sight.

She is blonde with curly hair, has a bright youthful face, and like all women in the Victorian era, she would wear big large dresses with crinoline and corsets, elegant bonnets and top hats.

What was Dora’s Personality?

Despite her natural beauty, Dora is considered to be very childish. David describes her as being lovely, as she has skills such as painting flowers and playing guitar.

The childishness is seen all over her character, as she talks like a baby, is very spoiled and she needs to be taken care of every time. Apart from this, she enjoys her freedom and seems to live in her own world away from reality, duties and responsibilities.

Why was Dora called a child-wife in the novel?

David and the readers get to discover right after their marriage that she is not made to be a wife. She is often seen more preoccupied talking to her dog, Jip, than taking interest in cooking, accounting or housekeeping.

Dora even mentions at some point that all of these give her headaches or make her want to cry. Acknowledging David’s expectations of her, Dora starts to wonder if she was clever or mature enough for him.

On the other hand, David starts to ask for advice from people who know her. He is told by Miss Mills that Dora should be loved  for her qualities and that ‘The suggestion is not appropriate to our Dora. Our dearest Dora is a favourite child of nature. She is a thing of light, and airiness, and joy’, which meant that she still has the brain of a child and cannot take anything too serious.

David tries to understand more of Dora and see beyond her imperfections because he really loved her, while Dora becomes aware that she had disappointed her husband.

Despite all these, she says she cannot change the way she is. Seeing that David tries to be more patient, she encourages him to call her ‘child-wife’, thus, accepting her true nature.

What was Dora’s last wish before she died?

The moment when she finds out and accepts that she was going to die was perceived as Dora’s only mature moment in the novel.

At the moment of her death, Dora was with Agnes, David’s childhood friend which Dora loved deeply. So, she secretly asks Agnes to marry David after her death, offering them her blessing.

Shortly after that, they do get married and stay together until the end of their lives.

What was the significance of Dora and David’s marriage?

Dora and David’s marriage uncovers the theme of ‘undisciplined love’, the kind of irrational love that does not make you see reality too clearly; nor the consequences.

Both being very young and without any experience made it hard for them to adjust and have a meaningful marriage.

Even if he realizes she is not mature enough to be a wife, David still let his heart and passion dictates. It was pretty much predictable and obvious that their marriage could not have worked out.

Despite social rules in the Victorian Era, Dora behaves in a way that is quite the opposite of normality. Victorian women were keen to get married and perform wives duties, but Dora seemed to own a constant desire to escape and behaved as a free child of nature.

Despite this, her energy and contagious vivid spirit, the kind heart and permanent state of happiness made her a character loved by everyone who read David Copperfield.